This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
We have a solid seven-game slate Saturday night that features a heavy does of superstars, as names such as Nikola Jokic, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Stephen Curry are just some of those taking the floor. Of the games with totals on DraftKings Sportsbook as of early Saturday, three have projected totals north of 220, certainly something we like to see for DFS purposes. There doesn't appear to be a particularly plentiful supply of viable sub-$5K value plays, either, so fitting in some of those elite players without having to also tolerate a lot of risk is likely to be somewhat challenging.
Here's a further look at the three games with the highest-projected totals on Saturday's slate as of early Saturday morning:
Los Angeles Lakers at Chicago Bulls (Projected total: 228.0 points)
The Bulls will bring both a bump in pace and some generous defense to this contest against the defending champions, certainly upping the chances of some points being put up. Chicago averages the second-most possessions per game (108.8), and they average an NBA-high 110.7 per home tilt. The Bulls are also giving up the third-most points per game (120.0), and with both teams also ranked in the top 10 in points scored per contest (L.A.- 115.1/ Chicago- 117.4), this has a good chance of a particularly fruitful night for several Lakers.
Golden State Warriors at Utah Jazz (Projected total: 225.0 points)
It will be interesting to see how pace shakes out in this game, considering the Warriors play at the third fastest (107.4 possessions per game) while the Jazz trudge along at the fourth slowest (101.7). Golden State is also ranked in the bottom 10 in points per game allowed (114.3), and considering Utah ranks No. 3 in that category (106.0 PPG allowed), this is a game where several Jazz players could end up benefiting from the extra possessions and overall matchup.
New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves (Projected total: 223.0 points)
The Pelicans are averaging 116.0 points per game over the last three, an appreciable bump from their 108.1 season figure. Meanwhile, both teams are ranked in the bottom half of the league in points per game allowed, with the T-Wolves giving up the fourth most (116.2) and the Pels surrendering 110.9 per game, including the fourth most over the last three games (123.3). Minnesota's offensive upside is significantly capped by the ongoing absence of Karl-Anthony Towns, but they're still playing at the league's seventh-fastest pace (105.5 possessions per contest), which is a nice boost for a New Orleans team that only averages 100.6 per road game.
Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written, check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: OUT
LeBron James, LAL (ankle)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
James is fully expected to continue playing through this ankle issue Saturday.
Anthony Davis, LAL (ankle)/ Status: PROBABLE
Davis is expected to continue playing through his ankle issue Saturday.
Christian Wood, HOU (ankle)/ Status: DOUBTFUL
Wood's likely absence, coupled with that of John Wall's, should lead to plenty of extra usage for the likes of Victor Oladipo, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker. Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins should be in line for another start at center.
Jimmy Butler (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
If Butler logs a seventh straight absence, Kendrick Nunn should once again be the biggest beneficiary after three straight impressive outings.
John Wall, HOU (knee)/ Status: OUT
Other notable injuries:
Tyler Herro, MIA (neck)/ Status: OUT
Josh Richardson, DAL (COVID-19 protocols)/Status: QUESTIONABLE
Wendell Carter, CHI (thigh)/ Status: DOUBTFUL
Despite just seven games on the night, there are five players with five-figure salaries. It starts with Nikola Jokic ($10,800) up top and continues with Luka Doncic ($10,700), James Harden ($10,500), the returning Kevin Durant ($10,400) and Joel Embiid ($10,000). All but Durant, who sat out Friday's loss to the Cavaliers, are notably playing on the second game of a back-to-back set.
There are also several players with salaries in the high four figures that have the ability to deliver elite scores, including Stephen Curry ($9,500), LeBron James ($9,400), Anthony Davis ($9,400), Zach LaVine ($9,200), Kyrie Irving ($8,900) and D'Angelo Russell ($8,600). Curry is going to have a tough defensive matchup against a Jazz team that will try to slow down the Warriors' breakneck pace, and Russell could be a bit less popular than usual after a dud in a tough defensive matchup for point guards (Hawks) on Friday. James and Davis will benefit from the elevated pace the Bulls play at, which could give them approximately 5-to-6 extra possessions to work with based on each team's season averages.
All of the names mentioned in Elite Players section are naturally going to be very popular Saturday, and with a relatively modest seven games, they should be pretty densely rostered. Additionally some of the big-name confirmed absences on the injury report are going to also lead to some heavy chalk – Karl-Anthony Towns' should lead to increased rostering rates for D'Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley in particular, while Victor Oladipo and some of his first-unit mates will certainly see their profiles rise due to the expected dual absences of John Wall and Christian Wood.
Jordan Clarkson, UTA vs. GS ($6,300)
Clarkson's salary remains very reasonable for a player that offers as much reliability as he does, and he checks into Saturday's game having exceeded 30 DK points on five occasions in the last seven games. What's more, three of those five contests included tallies of greater than 40 DK points, offering a glimpse of the 6x-7x return Clarkson is capable of delivering on his current salary. The Warriors make for highly likely facilitators of one of Clarkson's better performances, considering they'll bring a significant bump in pace to the Jazz and are also allowing the sixth-highest offensive efficiency rating (45.3 percent) to second-unit players.
Dennis Schroder, LAL at CHI ($6,100)
Schroder takes on a Bulls team that's been highly vulnerable to point guards all season, with Chicago coming in ranked in the bottom five or 10 in points (25.1), assists (9.0), rebounds (6.9) and steals (2.4) per game allowed to ones. Schroder turned in a rare dud (10.25 DK points) against the Bucks on Thursday, but he'd scored over 30 DK points in four of the prior six games and is averaging a solid 28.0 per contest for the season. Additionally, the Bulls come in playing at the second-fastest pace in the NBA (108.8 possessions per contest), which offers Schroder a nice boost in overall opportunity.
DeMarcus Cousins, HOU at DAL ($5,100)
Cousins churned out 36.25 DK points against the Pistons on Friday in a spot start for Christian Wood (ankle), and with the latter doubtful Saturday, Cousins should be in for another run with the first unit. The big man uncharacteristically shot just 2-for-16 from the field versus Detroit, but he helped boost his line significantly with 15 rebounds and seven assists. Cousins is naturally a much more gifted shooter than what he displayed Friday, and Saturday, he'll face a Mavericks squad that's ranked in the bottom 10 in offensive efficiency (32.2 percent), points (25.0) and steals (1.8) allowed to centers, and that also surrenders the eighth-most rebounds per game (55.1) as a team.